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New Mexico Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth New Mexico travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

New Mexico is called the “Land of Enchantment” for a reason: the state’s natural beauty, lively culture, and delicious cuisine will put you under its spell.

From otherworldly caverns and deserts to centuries of unearthed history to a vibrant art scene, New Mexico has so much to offer. It’s the perfect state for a road trip, whether you want to drive down the iconic Route 66 or just want to hit as many of the state’s 18 National Parks as you can.

However you decide to explore New Mexico, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

You’ll find evidence of New Mexico’s storied history throughout the state.

At Bandelier National Monument, El Morro National Monument, and Petroglyph National Monument, you can walk among petroglyphs created by Native Americans and Spanish Settlers as long as 700 years ago.

At Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historic Park, you can explore the remains of the Ancestral Pueblan buildings and homes, some of which still stand today.

Fort Union National Monument is home to the remnants of the Southwest’s largest 19th-century military fort.

And at Manhattan Project National Historic Park, you can learn about the science and engineering involved in the creation of the atomic bomb and how that weapon helped usher in the Nuclear Age.

New Mexico is also home to plenty of once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences.

You’ll feel like you’re on another planet as you explore the bright white dunes of White Sands National Park in the southern part of the state.

In Taos, you can check out the view from the second-highest bridge in the U.S. Highway System, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Its location over a breathtaking canyon is perfect for photos that will definitely earn you some likes on Instagram.

And if you’re passing through Santa Fe, you have to make some time to check out Meow Wolf’s immersive art experience House of Eternal Return. Walk through a home featuring 70 rooms of immersive art installations you’ll have to see to believe

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to New Mexico, a must-visit US travel destination.

Note: This ultimate New Mexico guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

New Mexico Map

Use this New Mexico tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

New Mexico map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Albuquerque Travel Guide

Discover incredible New Mexico attractions and experiences in Albuquerque!

New Mexico Travel Tips

Use this advice to plan the perfect New Mexico itinerary!

Best New Mexico Tours

Explore local culture with a New Mexico tour guide through these unique excursions:

  • The Ghost Tour of Old Town (New Mexico’s oldest Ghost Walk!) from Albuquerque
  • New Mexico: Jemez Pueblo, Soda Dam & Falls: A Photographer’s Landscape Dream from Albuquerque
  • Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise
  • Artisan Walking Tour + Chocolate from Taos
  • White Water Rafting and Wine Tour from Santa Fe
  • Santa Fe Railyard Arts District Food Tour

Renting A Car In New Mexico

Need a rental car for your New Mexico trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Public Transportation In New Mexico

Getting around New Mexico by train, bus, or ferry?

Omio is a must! You can use this tool for all of your public transportation needs when traveling around New Mexico.

The site is straightforward and user-friendly — and you can pre-book your tickets in advance at a discount.

They even offer flight and car deals!

New Mexico Hotels

Click here to browse the best New Mexico travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local properties:

New Mexico Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a New Mexico tour. When visiting New Mexico — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your New Mexico travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

New Mexico Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in New Mexico.

Q: What is the best month to visit New Mexico?

Different parts of New Mexico experience different climates, so the best time to visit the state depends on your itinerary and destinations.

That said, the spring and fall months are usually safe bets wherever you go. Temperatures are mild throughout the state, and you’ll miss the summer crowds.

Fall is also a great time to visit if you want to see the iconic hot air balloons:

The White Sands Balloon Festival takes place in September and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place in October.

Q: What should I know before going to New Mexico?

If you’re renting a car in New Mexico or planning a road trip, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car. The drives between New Mexico’s cities and top destinations are deceptively long, particularly when you compare the size of the state to that of neighboring Texas.

The drive from Santa Fe to White Sands National Park alone takes about four hours. Look up estimated drive times when planning your trip and make sure you give yourself enough time to get from destination to destination. But with the spectacular views from New Mexico’s roads, there’s plenty to enjoy along the way.

If a server at a restaurant asks you if you want “Red, green or Christmas?” they want to know what kind of chiles you want with your meal. “Christmas” refers to a combination of red and green chiles, evocative of the classic holiday decorations. Whatever you choose, you can’t really go wrong – it’s all delicious!

Despite its Southwest location, New Mexico actually has a ski season! Northern New Mexico’s mountains and snowy winters create great conditions for skiing and snowboarding.

Resorts like Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire Resort, and Ski Santa Fe have tons of great trails and plenty of things to do even if you’re not hitting the slopes.

If you’re a fan of winter sports, definitely consider visiting the state during the colder months.

Q: How much money do you need for a trip to New Mexico?

Your budget for a trip to New Mexico will depend on your itinerary and style of travel, but the average visitor spends about $72 per day on food, accommodation, transportation, activities, and other travel expenses in the state.

Q: How many days do you need in New Mexico?

To get a good sense of the state, plan for about one week in New Mexico. This will give you time to road trip from Albuquerque to Taos, spending a few days in Santa Fe along the way.

If you want to visit some of the state’s southern destinations like Carlsbad and White Sands National Park, you’ll want to tack on two-to-three extra days given the drive from north to south.

Q: What are the best things to do in New Mexico?

New Mexico is home to 18 national parks, monuments, historic trails, and preserves, each with its own unique draw. Carlsbad Caverns National Park features 119 caves with incredible rock formations that will make you feel like you’re on another planet. At night, you can watch the bats emerge from the caves as they hunt for food or take a star walk to see the night sky without any light pollution.

White Sands National Park is another surreal New mexico attraction with acres of bright white dunes perfect for hiking, biking, and even sledding.

Bandelier National Monument blends natural wonders with Southwest history. Hike through the rugged canyon to discover ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, and more.

And if you want more history, head to Petroglyph National Monument, where you’ll find carvings dating back 700 years.

Looking for something out of the ordinary?

New Mexico has plenty of quirky sites that delight!

If you’ve binge-watched Roswell or The X Files, you’ll definitely want to visit Roswell, NM, known as the world’s top spot for (supposed) alien encounters. Here you can visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center, take a photo with alien-themed streetlights, and see if you can spot your own E.T.

New Mexico is also synonymous with hot air balloons of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Come for one of the many balloon festivals or visit the Balloon Museum in Albuquerque, tracking the history of this wild form of aviation.

Want to stand in four states at once?

Take a drive out to Four Corners Monument in Northeast New Mexico where the state borders of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona meet.

And, if you’re a Breaking Bad fan, visit some of the filming locations in Albuquerque on a Breaking Bad Tour or grab some blue candies and snacks inspired by the show.

Q: Where is New Mexico?

New Mexico is located in the southwestern United Sates.

It shares borders with the US states of Colorado (north), Oklahoma and Texas (east and south), and Arizona (west). Additionally, it shares a border with Mexico (south).

Q: Are credit cards accepted in New Mexico?

Credit cards — mainly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around New Mexico. That being said, it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in New Mexico?

The tap water is generally safe to drink in New Mexico, but double check with your hotel to be safe.

Q: What is the local currency in New Mexico?

The local currency in New Mexico is the US Dollar (USD).

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